Shouldnít this be easy?


Iím mad at my phone.

Well, thatís not completely true. The phone is fine. I actually like it, and Iím enjoying the first new phone in about four years. Iím not exactly the guy running out immediately for latest and greatest. I tend to be more functional in that regard when it comes to my approach to purchases.

What Iím mad at is the options involved, and honestly, even that isnít really the phone. Itís more the way the default settings are, for lack of a better description, prioritized and thought out.

The other morning, I woke up first. With a few things going on, ranging from errands to falling snow to texts arriving while I slept, I picked my phone up from the nightstand and went to check a couple of things. AndÖ because, of courseÖ at some point as I moved along through different apps, a video began playing, and the rest of the details arenít important because the sound woke up Terry.

And yes, I had the sound off.

Kind of.

I had silenced the phone and shut down most of the things involved. For whatever reason, I seem to have missed one volume setting. When a video auto-triggered in some fashion it seems to have been attached to that particular volume setting for sound, which overrode my silencing of the phone, andÖ you know the rest, Tigg woke up.

Sheís put in her request that the phone be removed from nightstand. And in some ways, thatís fair enough. (The funnier part is that she didnít request it be removed. She actually flat out threatened the phone, explaining that if it ever went off again in the morning while she was sleeping that it would be the last known thing the phone did before disappearing forever.)

I have come to accept, begrudgingly, that technology and our advancements into the future are nothing more than a radar detector story. And thatís pretty annoying for those of us not in the conference room debating those default settings.

A few decades ago, radar detectors were the fancy must have item for a car. It was, arguably, a statement piece as much as a useful tool. The concept of status earned by owning one isnít required for my story, so just enjoy the nostalgia on your own.

The popularity of the units triggered this funny (and understandable) game of one-upmanship between police departments and motorists. Or, more specifically, between the groups trying to sell radar guns to police departments and radar detectors to motorists. (And yes, I do appreciate the potential humor in having a single parent company owning groups that are making both radar guns and radar detectors.) Basically, the action played out like thisÖ

(1) Police begin using radars to track speeding.

(2) Drivers begin purchasing radar detectors that picked up signals from radar guns and, hopefully, gave them enough time to slow down before their car was tracked.

(3) Police upgraded to new radar guns that operated in a slightly different way than the previous radar guns so the old radar detectors didnít work.

(4) Drivers upgraded to new radar detectors that had additional design features which assisted with the new radar guns.

(5) Return to step 3, and begin ongoing repeating of steps 3 to 5.

Now, sure, my breakdown is fairly basic. But, as I mentioned, we donít need the complex details. Itís simply an ongoing, repetitive one-upmanship. Police track speeders, speeders try determine when they are being tracked, police adjust the way they track speeders, speeders adjust their detection methods, lather, rinse, repeat.

Drivers have moved on. At least I think we have. Itís that status statement thing. Weíre someplace between two and fifty generations past a dash-mounted radar detector as a neat accessory in the car. Weíre passing voice recognition artificial intelligence navigational playlists as must haves for the in crowd.

And so, radar detectorsÖ you donít see them in everyoneís car these days. But they still exist. Some states have laws either limiting or banning their use. Some companies have adapted their models for use with lasers, stop light cameras, and more. And, of course, between the internet and tablets and smartphones, Iím sure thereís an app or fifty million for police avoidance driving assistance to be provided by a voice recognition bluetooth GPS or whatever.

When it comes to technology though, even when the playing field is different that game of outdoing advancements continues with the same pattern. LatherÖ rinseÖ repeatÖ

Many years ago, popup ads were all the rage. (In several definitions of the word rage.) Everyone rejoiced when they were able to add popup blockers. Heading back to repeat steps 3 through 5, we eventually meandered our experiences through pages coming up with inserted areas that triggered activity based on you unwittingly moving your cursor. These days, videos are set off and run whether you want them to or not. Heck, many reputable sites now even have advertising and content displays that set up on the margin and scroll down along with you. Thatís exciting. (So exciting I often just turn my speakers off and leave them off. And that also brings us back to my phone.)

I get it. I know that by turning down basically every volume option on my phone, and maybe even diving deeply into the settings to adjust a bit here and there and for this and for that, eventually I would likely kill all of the sounds options. (And perhaps even turn off the automatically there to annoy me because I have no interest in watching them videos.)

The point is, I donít see why there needs to be that much effort. I flipped the little switch that silences the phone. Silences the phoneÖ silences the phoneÖ SILENCES the phone. shouldnít that, you know, silence the phone?

Every one of the cars purchased by a member of my family over the past twenty years has been designed differently for the operation of its door locks. That even includes some purchases where makes and models were revisited.

Some doors relock if you unlock them with a remote and then donít physically open them within a certain amount of timeÖ others automatically lock as soon as the car is shifted out of parkÖ others, for reasons I still have never understood, actually wonít lock when the car is started and in park. WhichÖ

On that not locking idea, eventually Iíve come to the assumption that it has something to do with not locking yourself out of your car if you are warming it up. You get itÖ the key is in the ignition, which means it is unavailable to unlock the door, therefore the operator will love a feature designed so they canít lock themselves out of a running vehicle. Trouble is, each time I noticed it, I was sitting in the car and had some weird sensation of wanting to improve my personal safety. Parking lotÖ late at night and darkÖ picking someone up and waiting for them to come out of the building. Flip the switch to lock the doors and **bam** locks slammed into place and the immediately slammed back to unlocked. Perfect. Just perfect.

In most cases, there is some way of adjusting the settings. Make the car honk when it is being locked. Stop it from honking when being locked. Make it honk twice while doing thisÖ ring bells when doing thatÖ flash the high-beams twice and text my phone when my table is ready inside the restaurant.

There is no end.

When I bought my first car, there were two concerns. Only two. Making sure your car had air conditioning and rear window defrost. Cruise control was an unbelievable bonus. And if you think thatís funny, and want to call me old, then chances are good you donít recall when most cars came with two different keys.

(Of course, thereís a good chance you may be laughing because you donít even know what a key is, never mind a day when doors and ignitions used different keys. Keys and pay phones? What are those. FineÖ laugh and call me old and say I need to enter the modern day, I simply do not see me ever adjusting happily to a car security system that can be thwarted by waving my foot under the bumper or after I lock the car by my walking too closely to it with the keys in my pocket.)

If I use that fancy switch on the side to turn the sounds off on my phone, then I think itís fair to say that I would like the sounds off. That does not mean all sounds, all the time, except when my finger brushes the screen while an option to play a video is displayed. I want all sounds silenced. All the time. Unless I specifically say otherwise.

I donít want to pretend that Iím throwing my hands up trying to get the flow of technology to stop. Iím not against advancing anything. I know why my car no longer has a cassette player as a standard option. I know there are things I should learn, there are things I will need to learn, and there are amazing things Iím missing out on by not learning.

Instead, I just think itís fair to begin with all options and defaults founded under a simple notion: if I indicated I want something to happen, and I adjust to work that way, then I should be the one to explain the exceptions to that request.


There are reasons some of us warm up our cars. Ice on the windshield. Not wanting to freeze after leaving a warm house. Reasons beyond simply lack of awareness about the operating specifications for the newest cars and whether or not they even need to be warmed up to operate properly. Someone in ArizonaÖ southern CaliforniaÖ year-round-never-below-50-degree locationsÖ might just have different experiences and motivations than those in Alaska, Minnesota and Maine.

And people making these decisions without knowing my needs are why my phone may soon disappear under far from mysterious circumstances.


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